Our promotion celebrations now seem a distant memory as our preparations for life in National One are in full flight. I thought I’d update you on what’s been going on behind the scenes.
It’s been a busy time since the end of April and the squad are now back into phase 1 of pre season training. We have been able to confirm a strong set of pre-season friendlies, which will see us well tested before our opening league game against Caldy on 2nd September.
Sadly, we said goodbye to a few players at the end of last season;
Club Captain, Tom Coleman, hung his boots up after 13 seasons of 1st XV rugby and 6 as skipper but I’m pleased to announce that Tom will continue in his role as backs and attack coach.
Joining Tom in retiring are three of are other ‘homegrown’ players; Harry Marner, Sam Whiffen and Simon Wasley. Harry has decided to hang up his boots after a decade of senior rugby while, sadly, Sam and Simon have been forced to stop through injury. All of these players have come through our youth and mini system going on to represent the 1XV and Blues with distinction over many years. We hope to keep all these lads involved with the playing group in some way, so you’ll definitely see them around.
Seb Brownhill will be joining Loughborough Students’ National One squad, having now completed his first year of study there, and we look forward to locking horns with him through the season.
Back row, Jacob Turner, has joined Nottingham University and Josh Winter and Hugh Michell have both taken on teaching roles in Nottingham and Cairo respectively.
I’d like to thank all these players for their massive contribution to our recent campaigns and wish them all the very best for the future.
We have a few additions to our squad for next season, as we look to strengthen for the challenges of both National 1 and Zoo 1 rugby.
Fly Half, George Cullen, rejoins us from a season in the Championship with London Scottish. When asked what it means to return to his home club George said;
“Its a hugely exciting time to be coming back to Stortford as the Club looks to establish itself at the next level and I can't wait to be a part of it. There's a massive buzz around the Club and town as a whole in anticipation of the season ahead. It's certainly going to be challenging but I've got no doubt that the boys will step up and deliver".
Sam James rejoins us to bolster our options at Hooker after 2 seasons with Bedford Blues, Sam said on his return;
“It’s massively exciting to be coming back to my hometown club. Many of my biggest rugby memories came form playing at BSRFC, such as winning National 2 South and the U18 National Cup being the two big highlights for me. I am excited to see what we as a club can achieve in our debut season in National 1, we have all the attributes to do very well in this league”.
2015-16 Player of the Year, Baxter Wilson, also returns and will make our back row very competitive. Speaking on his return, Baxter said;
“I’m buzzing to get back and join the Stortford boys and hit the ground running in National 1 this year”.
Winger, Cameron Ives, who is originally from Colchester RFC, came through the Northampton Saints junior academy and last year played for Henley Hawks.
Prop Lewis Brunger joins from Thurrock after a stint in South Africa. Prior to that Lewis played for Ampthill.
Another new face will be Josh Wright. New Hall educated Josh was part of the same Saracens academy group as our own Freddie Hatton and played for the Blues towards the end of the season, and now joins the full squad. Josh can play in a number of positions across the back line.
Finally, completing our roster of new players is back rower, Dan Leo. Samoan International, Dan, brings a wealth of International and Premiership experience to the squad. Most recently player coach at London Cornish, he and his young family are re-locating to the area to be closer to his wife’s family. Dan said on joining BSRFC;
"Having stepped away from competitive rugby for 12 months in order to focus on establishing The Pacific Rugby Players Welfare organisation (www.pacificrugbywelfare.com), the opportunity to join Bishop Stortford in National 1 provided the perfect opportunity and challenge that I was looking for to get back into the game. I look forward to adding my experience to what is an exciting group of players and an important period for the Club”.
I’d like you to join me in welcoming all the new players to our Club and we look forward to having them with us on our journey.
Enjoy the rest of the summer and we look forward to your support when we get back underway on the 12th August.
Updated 16:49 - 9 Aug 2017 by Perry Oliver